Features about Iran should be published with critical comment

Both feature articles «Minority groups represented» and «Confessions of a fundamentalist in Ahmadinejad’s Iran of today» (June 6) praise the traditions and the modern progress of Iran. I would have ignored all of these lies about Iran as typical fluff from Tehran, if your paper had not printed them as «feature articles.» I can understand why the state press of Iran has to print such things; I don’t know why a free organization would print these as «feature articles,» without critical comment. Iran stands alone in world history, since WWII Nazi Germany, for its recent initiative to mark certain religious minorities. Obviously, there is a need to segregate their harmful effect from the Islamist Iranians. [The article] forgot to mention [President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s] proposal to require that all Jewish and Christian people wear a color-coded badge on the outer garment of their clothes. Unbelievably, your feature article quotes a Jewish minority group’s representative as claiming that the conditions are improving in Iran.  [Iranian intellectual Mahmoud Dehnamaki] gets space to lay blame for all that is wrong in the world on the «West» and «the capitalist, brutally competitive model…» He claims that Iran does not want nuclear weapons, «they are useless.» At the same time, [Dehnamaki] claims that the «only protective shield for a regime, for a system, for a state is in the will of God and the support of the popular masses.» The articles that your organization published raise more questions than they claim to answer. The reader is tempted to believe that nothing is wrong in Iran. This disposition, on the part of your readers, flies in the face of the obvious questions that they must have. Why does Iran preach the destruction of Israel, which it refuses to recognize? Why does Iran sponsor terrorism? Why can’t Iran have a free press? Why can’t Iran hold free elections for its leaders? Why can’t Iran support the freedom of religion? I suggest the answers to these questions will answer the two important questions of our day. First, why is Iran a threat to the free world? And, second, why must Iran never become a nuclear power? JEFFREY PETER CLAGETT, Virginia, USA. Editor replies: The issue of Iran’s relationship with the rest of the world is indeed complicated and cannot all be contained in a few dispatches. But that does not mean that we must ignore what the Iranians themselves have to say in order to hear our own opinions only. We also trust our readers to understand the context in which the people who are being interviewed speak.